Last thing I take out of that Rosenthal column* this morning:
One potential landing spot for Jeff Francoeur: Philadelphia . . . The Braves, again seeking outfield help, are among the clubs that could take a look at Pat Burrell.
Before anyone goes nuts, remember: there’s a difference between an actual rumor and a reporter playing the “this guy would be a good fit here” game. So much of that latter stuff gets repeated as actual news when, really, it’s nothing more than people chatting to kill the time. That said:
- Both would make some amount of sense in that Frenchy can at least pretend to be the right-handed portion of a platoon and Burrell, for all of the holes in that swing, would actually represent an improvement for the Braves’ atrocious outfield;
- Rosenthal was the first guy to be talking about the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay trade last year. At the time everyone thought that was pure speculation too; and
- While I’d hope that both the Braves and Phillies would aim higher to address their needs, I can’t imagine a situation that would give me more satisfaction than seeing Philly fans go nuts when Francoeur does Jeff Francoeur things. And if Burrell had one big hit to beat Philly in 2011, he’ be worth his salary and strikeouts in schadenfruede value alone.
So, yes, this is just “this guy would fit here stuff” right now. But a boy can dream, can’t he?
*At this point allow me to note that while I do my fair share of criticism of, well, everyone, I am a big fan of Ken Rosenthal. We disagree a lot when it comes to commentary — steroids stuff, competitive balance stuff, etc. — but as a reporter I really dig his work. He’s not always right. No one in the news and rumors game is. But he’s right just as often if not a bit more than most. More importantly, he has what I feel to be the right temperament for the job. You never hear him piling on players or organizations the way so many (myself included, I must admit) so often do. Personally speaking, he’s unfailingly polite and gracious. I ripped a column of his to shreds once and he sent me an email defending his argument that was way nicer than I deserved. Made me feel like a schmuck. Which is good, because I was being a schmuck. I still behave like a schmuck sometimes, but I try to do it a bit less because as a result of Rosenthal’s graciousness.
I’m not going to canonize the guy or anything — we’re all human, and he’ll likely write something in the next couple of months that will have me tearing what’s left of my hair out — but there are only a handful of reporters who do what he does. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are hostile or arrogant or simply refuse to engage readers, critics and other writers at all. Rosenthal is better than that, and he deserves an occasional shoutout for it.
New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.
Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.
The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.
It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.